Fantasy football week one is usually time to roll out the dream lineup you picked on draft day. Typically the injury bug hasn’t hit yet, and there is no bye week to cover, so just start your best squad, right? Not necessarily. There is reason to be weary of even some of the most proven fantasy performers even at this early stage. Here’s a look at who you may want warming the bench this weekend.
Cam Newton, Panthers
Much has been made of Newton’s lost weapons this offseason, but he still has tight end Gregg Olson and some serviceable wideout options to throw to. But what has made Newton an elite fantasy QB is his rushing ability. With Newton missing practice this week due to a rib injury, you have to expect that – even if he does play – he won’t be getting the goal line touches and open field yardage that you bank on when you put him in your lineup. Don’t be tempted by his previous success against Tampa. If you’ve got Colin Kaepernick or Jay Cutler on the bench, they are probably going to be a safer bet.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
A couple of years ago Rudolph was a red zone stud, but last year he put up a lot more zeros than TD’s. Some believe that the presence of Norv Turner will turn him into a weekly fantasy starter, but the strong Rams pas rush may make him little more than a blocker in week one. If you took him in the draft, you likely grabbed another tight end. Play him instead.
Keenan Allen, Chargers
Allen was a breakout stud for the Chargers last season, helping return Phillip Rivers to fantasy relevance, but a match-up with the stiff Arizona defense and star DB Patrick Peterson should make you nervous. You’re going to be very pleased to have Allen on your team this year, but don’t expect number one wideout production out of him this week, and consider yourself lucky if he puts up solid WR2 production. If you got one of the Saints or Colts starting receivers sitting on the bench, you might consider giving them the start instead.
Trent Richardson, Colts
Richardson made a big splash as a draft pick, and generated even more buzz when he was traded last season. But after joining the Colts he was mostly a flop. Those who believe it’s only a matter of time before he busts out may be right, but there is no reason to think it will be this week. The defending AFC Champ Broncos bolstered their defense in the off-season, and they still have a high-powered offense that will likely force Andrew Luck to air it out to keep up. Richardson will get some chances, but the odds of a monster game are low. If you’ve got one of the Lions or Saints backs on the bench, you may want to make the switch.
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The Cowboys-Niners match-up isn’t what it used to be, and many see the 49ers pounding the football against an over-matched Dallas defense in this game. But Dallas QB Tony Romo still has plenty of weapons at his disposal on offense, and if he’s playing catchup you can expect him to be slinging it. NaVorro Bowman’s knee problems and off the field issues for Aldon Smith and Ray McDonald should have you expecting the vaunted Niner defense to take a significant step back in the early going this year. You would probably be better served playing better matchups by grabbing the Eagles (vs. Jags) or Jets (vs. Raiders) defenses off the waiver wire for the week.